Led by regional individual champion senior Kaylah Romine (15:46), the Pratt High School girls crosscountry team captured the regional title at Buhler Saturday, and will compete in the state meet at Wamego next weekend.
It was a comfortable win for the Frogs of Distance, who scored 78 points to best runners-up Ulysses (99) and Clay Center (100).
Freshman Ruth Anthony joined Romine on the medal stand, finishing 8th (16:49.) Head coach Kathy Hitz said “Kaylah’s been winning races all year and Ruth has been right there with her in the top 5 or 10. Those two set the table for us.”
Nichole Moreland nearly gave the Greenbacks 3 runners in the top 10, finishing 11th(17:10.) “Nichole moved up the best she has all year,” Hitz observed. “She went from about 25th at the mile mark to about 15th with a half-mile to go, to 11th at the finish.”
Cassidy Cronister (27th 18:04) and Carly Reid (38th 18:29) rounded out the Pratt scoring with solid runs. Chloe Cannata (83rd 21:33) was the Frogs’ pusher.
Romine was humble in victory, giving credit to her teammates. “The way I look at it is everyone has the same opportunity and it just all boils down to how much hard work and heart you put into it,” she said. “Our team showed that today.”
Romine followed her usual game plan which was to work her way into the lead and push the pace, forcing challengers to have to catch her.
Ulysses’ Chisholm Branscom hung with Romine for most of the race. “I’m always afraid I’m going too slow,” Romine said. As the end of the race approached, Romine could hear Ulysses supporters urging Branscom on.
“I thought, ‘oh shoot, I’d better go’, ” Romine related. Her increased pace at the end allowed Romine to open up the eventual 4 second margin of victory over Branscom.
It will be the girls’ team second consecutive trip to state, where they placed 4th last year.
The Pratt boys were also in action Saturday, but none finished high enough to qualify for state. Boys results: Brendan Pribil (27 18:54); Joseph Loomis (50 19:41); Josh Powell (72 20:28); Zach Claussen (79 20:56); Zach Will (92 21:39); Chance Reh (94 22:05) and Caleb Hitz (96 22:46).